Top 9 Media Stories

The <i>Austin American-Statesman</i> building
The Austin American-Statesman building (Photo by Jana Birchum)

1) WETBACK SETBACKS KLBJ-AM morning hosts Todd Jeffries and Don Pryor were suspended after Pryor repeatedly used the term "wetback" on the air. Faced with protests from the Hispanic community, parent company Emmis Communications condemned the language and vowed to become more culturally sensitive. A few months later, Emmis management proved its politically correct resolve by suspending 101X's The Morning X deejays, Jason Dick and Deb O'Keefe, for joking about "wet vacs."

2) 'STATESMAN' NOT FOR SALE For a year, Cox Newspapers entertained offers for the Austin American-Statesman. But with the newspaper industry in full spiral, Cox didn't like the lowball bids and ultimately decided to take the paper off the market. Staffers applauded. Readers yawned.

3) BMP IMPLODES In a tumultuous year for local radio, not one element affected Austin more than the collapse of Border Media Partners, which dreamed of creating an empire of Spanish-language stations, including seven in Austin. BMP moved to create a Mexican-flavored edge to the local dial, with new formats like La Ley. Instead the company was taken over by its lenders in 2009 and La Ley was La Bye Bye.

4) KLRU WOES Public broadcasting affiliate KLRU's financial issues were hardly a surprise, but few knew the extent of the problem. In the spring, the station said it was facing a shortfall of almost $1 million; 20% of the staff was jettisoned, and a chunk of the station's slim roster of local programming was suspended while management tried to regroup.

5) TV NEWS LITE The slimming down of local TV news continued with CBS-affiliate KEYE and Fox affiliate KTBC both trimming staff. KEYE dropped its morning show in favor of the JB & Sandy Morning Show and added a 4pm show apparently geared for viewers with a fifth-grade education. The exception to the trend: NBC affiliate KXAN, which actually moved to bolster its government coverage and in-depth reporting.

6) WHEN THE MUSIC STOPS … As the year drew to a close, the local radio stations exploded into a game of musical chairs. Jammin' was toast. The Beat was back. Sports talk appeared on the FM dial. Crusty Sammy Allred returned to the air. KGSR switched frequencies. And, strangely, when all the moves were done, radio still sounded the same.

7) KUT CONTROVERSY Perhaps management of the public radio station thought no one would notice when they decided to cut back longtime disc jockeys Larry Monroe and Paul Ray. Instead fans organized a protest against the station, raised money, staged events, and recruited more than 1,700 Facebook fans. Management said the protests didn't affect fundraising, but the controversy raised serious issues about the station's direction and the broader role of public radio.

8) DENBERG DEPARTS Jody Denberg's voluntary exit from KGSR signaled the end of an era. For 19 years he represented the blend of blues, rock, and country that has developed into a distinctly Austin sound. Low-key, knowledgeable, and well-connected, he was an Austin fixture and undoubtedly the only local deejay who could get Yoko Ono on the phone.

9) TEXAS TRIBUNE LAUNCHES In a bleak landscape for news organizations, the Texas Tribune emerged to offer hope for the future. A nonprofit with serious sugar daddy funding and former Texas Monthly Editor Evan Smith at the helm, the Tribune hired a roster of veteran reporters and launched into the world. The result is a good-looking site and a stream of interesting stories, suggesting that an alternative model might emerge to develop serious news for serious people.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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Media Watch, KLBJ-AM, Todd Jeffries, Don Pryor, Jason and Deb, wet vacs, Austin American-Statesman, La Ley, Border Media Partners, KLRU, KEYE, KTBC, JB and Sandy, KXAN, KUT, Larry Monroe, Paul Ray, KGSR, Texas Tribune, Evan Smith

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